Oncolytics is currently focused on immunotherapy combinations, including our studies with Bavencio®, Keytruda®, Opdivo®, Tecentriq®, and Retifanlimab.
Cancers grow in our bodies because our immune systems do not recognize these tumors as foreign or as a threat. They do this by applying the brakes to our immune systems – notably T cells – through receptors called checkpoints. Immunotherapies, including checkpoint inhibitors, help our immune systems to recognize and kill cancer. Instead of attacking the tumor directly, checkpoint inhibitors work to prevent tumors from suppressing our immune systems. For some patients the effects are profound, but as low as 1-in-5 patients will respond to checkpoint blockade depending on the indication. Responses are limited by when tumors do not have the key elements required for checkpoint blockade:
Pelareorep has demonstrated the ability to create this tumor environment and conditions the tumor for multiple treatment combinations including checkpoint inhibitors and potentially other immuno-oncology drugs. Pelareorep creates a new army of tumor-reactive T cells, causes these cells to infiltrate the tumor through an inflammatory process, and promotes the overexpression of checkpoints, including PD-1/PD-L1. By priming the immune system before checkpoint blockade, we believe we can increase the percentage of patients who respond to checkpoint inhibitors and open up new indications where checkpoint blockade has been ineffective to date. This vast opportunity underlines the importance of our collaborations with Merck, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Roche, Incyte, and the Pfizer/Merck KGaA alliance in a variety of solid and hematological tumor targets.